Turning the Tables with the Psychology of Persuasion


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I have been reading a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini Ph.D. It details various principles by which humans operate that can be used to manipulate them for personal gain. These ideas are the backbone of many sales practices and I thought it would be fun to think up some ways to turn the tables by applying these same principles to salespeople themselves. I will probably add more as I read further in. Please feel free to add your own ideas to this thread too.

Car salesmen, among many other types of salespeople, manipulate the way humans register perceptual contrast. A very simple demonstration of perceptual contrast is to stick one hand in cold water, the other in hot. Now put both hands into luke warm water and each hand will register it in contrast to the temperature of the water in which it was previously submerged. A car salesperson will establish a base sale price before mentioning add-ons to that base cost whose price will feel more reasonable because the victim has already committed to a larger expenditure. This is what I think would be a good reversal of the car salesman's tactic:

Bring a small gift, maybe donuts or a box of lindt chocolates or a popcorn tin. Offer it to your salesperson as a gift when you first meet him. You can tell him it is as thanks for helping you today. Now, there may be some guilt that operates because of that phrasing (which will only reinforce its efficacy) but the larger reason it should work is because of the law of reciprocity which makes people feel obligated to make a return-favor for gifts received. Social pressure makes it very difficult to refuse even an unwanted gift and by offering a small one an individual can receive a much greater gift in return. I think this social principle is likely the operating force behind the "new agey" idea that the more you give, the more you receive. When you give to other people they feel obliged, indebted to you, and are now likely to try to return your favor. Rather than a metaphysical principle it's really a psychological manipulation.

Dr. Cialdini theorizes in the book I'm reading that this principle helped early humans to create interdependent societies with specialized roles in which individuals knew that their contributions would be matched by those who received their gifts.
Okay this is funny. Seen in adsense on this thread:

"Robert B Cialdini
Principles of Persuasion Two-Day Corporate Seminar..."
Namaste Dauer, good stuff.

I don't purchase new cars anymore, I let others take the initial depreciation and buy on the secondary market. But I had to buy my share of cars/trucks for my company or family over the years. Some of my favorite tricks.

prior to the net I'd call a credit union and get a invoice report and actual costs on extras, I'd go in with that and say, want to make an easy $300 for the firm, this is what I'll pay, take it or leave it. They often took it.

before I started that one and prior to cell phones, when they went to talk to the manager I'd turn thier phone around and start doing business, or calling friends on the opposite coast, when they came back with the info I'd raise my finger and mouth 'one minute' keeping them on the hot seat while I finished my call.

When they had to go back to the manager I'd get out a book I and start reading, leaning back in my chair engrossed while they were hoping to have me wait impatiently.

another favorite, pick the car you'd like, the extras you'd like, the color you'd like fax your requirements to all the local car dealers with a line at the bottom that says total cost including delivery, destination charges and taxes_______________ please submit your price by 5 pm this afternoon I will call you if I am interested. Do that the end of the month, the end of the quarter or the end of the year (when thier quota stats go in which determine the lot bonus) and you'll be surprised at the prices you get!

Don't hate the player, love the game!
by the way...

The old talk to the manager.

salesman: "Boy you are driving a hard bargain, I can never agree to this, I'll lose my job. But I like you, I'll show it to the manager and and see what he'll say. I'm pretty sure there is no way we can do this, but I'll find out what we can do" (this comes after the "What would it take for me to get you in a car today?")

So the salesman gets up sheepishly and walks over to the managers desk. These are either in glass offices that can not only see the whole showroom but also so you can see them, or at the front of the showroom and a raised platform for the same reason.

So the conversation goes something like this.

salesman: yeah here is the number.

Manager: what do you think?

s: tire kicker (or maybe we got him on a hook)

m: where are we going to get dinner (or who is going to win the game or whatever)

right now the clock has started ticking, they are going to let it run out and have some innocuous conversation watching your body language to see when you are getting impatient but far from fed up enough to walk out...as you get close they smile shake hands and he heads back. They already know what their bottom line is, they already know how much they'll give you on the trade in, they've already done the sales figures at this mornings meeting, nothing will change accept how much mark up they can get, the store will always get the same cut, it is how much the salesman will make for that sale.

s: He said there isn't any way. Can you come up $xxx? I think I can convince him to make the deal...